Got decorating ADD? Here’s how we find focus.

Q: First, I want to say that I love your blog! Your home seems so fresh and inviting! I love your style! On the other hand, I feel like I have Decorating ADD. I think I have a great plan all laid out for a room but when I get to the store I immediately find a million other things that I like even better! I can’t focus on a plan! I think part of the problem is that I like so many different decorating styles. I get bored very easily, and I think my husband gets tired of me changing things around constantly (although he would never say anything, he’s a gem!). Anyways, my question is… does this mean I have an eclectic style? Any tips for pulling it together without making my rooms look like confused spaces? Thanks a million! -Kristina

A: We totally know what you mean! It took us years to really figure out what we loved and what materials, styles and colors would work together to create a cohesive and inviting home. It’s important to note that what you love and what should come home with you are not always the same thing! There are lots of things that we love but they wouldn’t work with other items, color schemes, and elements that we already have in our home so we’re perfectly happy admiring them from afar! For example, here’s a boldly patterned navy rug that John and I both adore, but recognize that it doesn’t jive with our light and airy existing aesthetic.

Our best advice for pinpointing your style once and for all (and feeling more focused and less frenzied on shopping trips) would be to tear out favorite rooms from magazines and collect online images that inspire you in a desktop folder. That way you can easily pick out the reoccurring themes that may otherwise have been less obvious to you (ex: all your favorite rooms have a lot of white in them, most of them are punchy and colorful, they all feel uncluttered and minimal, etc). For example, many of the rooms in our inspiration folder have a similar serene feeling, soft colors, and natural textures accompanied by a bit of dark wood or metal.

Once you have a better idea of what you consistently like, take a good hard look at what you have. If all of your inspiration rooms have white slipcovered sofas but you’re working with brown leather ones, you might want to grab a few inexpensive slipcovers to instantly add more of the style you gravitate towards. This will also help you to develop a foolproof shopping plan that you can effortlessly stick to. For example, if your favorite inspiration rooms have warm yellow and burn orange accent colors, it will be easier to steer clear of that cool blue and white pillow that happens to be on sale.

This home that we crashed is a great example of how every room has its own points of interest but it flows together well and feels cohesive (more on it here).

It’s also always a good idea to keep larger items neutral (rugs, sofas, walls) if you find yourself attracted to a lot of colorful eclectic accents, which can really help the mixed & matched thing work without creating a chaotic room that feels like it’s fighting with itself. Here’s an example of a great eclectic living room that doesn’t feel frenzied or overwhelming thanks to a neutral rug, sofa and walls (while the smaller pieces add punches of color and interest from all different eras). Or, like the living room above, if the walls are white and the furnishings are all pretty neutral, a bright sofa might be a fun pop of color and interest in the room.

And finally, the most important thing to mention is that a room is never really done (and especially isn’t done in a day or a week). A place that feels like home will constantly evolve and grow with you, so don’t despair if it takes a while to create a space that truly feels like you. It’s all about trial and error, learning as you go, and having fun along the way!

What about you guys? Do you have any tips and tricks to add to the mix? Tell us how you make sense of a room full of eclectic pieces or how you keep your eyes on the prize when you’re shopping for home decor!

Comments

  1. Donna says

    Sherry,
    I’m so glad you’ve addressed this question. I too find it difficult to focus once I start shopping-even if I go with the exact item in mind, there are so many distractions. Thanks for your very practical advice. I love your blog and my husband now knows that I’m usually visiting it when I’m anywhere near the computer.

  2. says

    I am definitely a little ADD when it comes to design. I just recently came home with an amazing vibrant yellow toss pillow…I tried to justify it by saying “Every room needs a pop of yellow”…wrong. It looked terrible with our current decor. As much as I love it, I am headed to Target to swap it for a much more cohesive aqua blue pillow!

  3. Priscilla says

    Just curious how you organize your inspiration folder…is it online via a certain website like flickr? Is it cut-outs from magazines in a box? Or a little bit of both?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Priscilla,

      Good question! We actually have a three inch binder full of clear plastic sleeves sectioned off into categories (outdoor inspiration, art ideas, interiors we love, etc) for all of our favorite magazine tear-outs. And when it comes to saving images that we find online, a simple desktop folder labeled “inspiration” with similar folders (outdoor stuff, interior ideas, art stuff, etc) allows us to drag anything and everything that we love into that folder for safe keeping and easy viewing. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  4. Holly says

    This is so me! I just painted a room in my house tan since I’m so wishy-washy because I’m scared that I’ll get a nice bold color on the wall that I LOVE {at the time!} and then get tired of it. So I decided that I’d accesorize it with color, but now I’m wishing that I’d painted it a green. Sigh. No fears, I found a green rug at Ikea last night that I fell in love with, so that will be my big splash of color!! Unless I win that Behr paint….. :-)

  5. says

    I can relate to the above who likes a little bit of everything. My home is definitely a bit electic. I think the key is finding great anchor pieces and working around it. Color is important when you have an electic style because it can help keep all the pieces and your home as a whole cohesive. My colors are reds (though more burgundy-ish), greens, golds, browns, and black. I think blues, purples, etc can make a lovely home but because they aren’t my faves I just bypass them in the store. However, we do have one purple room in our house, our daughter’s room. haha! Her room is like the odd ball but she loves it.

  6. says

    I did what Sherry suggested a few years ago, and once I realized the common qualities, our style (which was mish-mashed over the years) clicked into place and became a defining element of our home: neutral colors, clean lines, uncluttered, with a blend of traditional and contemporary.

    My biggest obstacle to overcome was the “this isn’t exactly what I want, but it’ll probably work” train of thought. I’ve learned to hold off until EXACTLY what I want becomes available. It’s surprising how big a difference that made in keeping with our style. Of course, you do have to be flexible, too, but hold out for those pieces that will really define your rooms!

  7. says

    I am in total agreement…a room is NEVER done. Mine are constantly evolving, even when I have a basic design intact already. Gotta keep things fresh and exciting!

  8. says

    I totally agree that creating inspiration folders is an awesome way to “streamline” your style – I used this same approach to find architectural features that I liked while we were undergoing a big remodel – worked like a charm!! I tend to use several different computers (work, home, etc), so when I find an online picture that I like I just right-click on and and choose “email” – that way I can email it to myself (noting the source in the subject line), print it out later and always have it when I need it!

  9. Dana Miller says

    This question could have been posted by me! Since discovering your website, I’ve been yearning to decorate ASAP. However, it’s good to know that your house didn’t happen overnight. My hubby and I need time and our priority right now is dissolving our school loan debt before conquering any design dilemmas. That said, I am THOROUGHLY enjoying preparing for some DIY projects/design: organizing a home folder, clipping magazines, rearranging furniture on paper, compiling a shopping list and researching various design books that you’ve suggested. Thanks for all of the inspiration and practical advice!

  10. Amber says

    LOL…I was so happy when I saw this question this morning! I’m so glad I’m not alone…I LOVE so many styles and I have changed my decor more times than I or my hubby cares to remember…
    I have always kept a small folder of inspiration…but I’ve never really went through and organized it. Now I have a plan! Thanks youngsters :)

  11. says

    This is great! I always wind up bringing something home from a store because I love it, have to have it, then it doesn’t really fit with my style or colors.

    For instance, I bought a Jonathan Adler throw pillow because it was beautiful and only $10. But it really doesn’t go with my bedding at all…

  12. says

    I totally feel Kristina’s pain. I’m so indecisive that I’m paralyzed at a store. Then I’ll buy something because I’m fed up with myself and hate it (pillow, lamp, etc) three months later.

    On the plus side, I have a neutral sofa, glass coffee table, and basic espresso brown furniture. So if I wanted to go “ethnic” I could, or “go blue” or pink, or vintage eclectic. Probably the only things I couldn’t do would be shabby chic or minimalist modern. But my wealth of options is quite intimidating!

  13. Lisa says

    Because I feel that my style evolves over time, I try to update one room at a time, then move to the next. Pretty much I’m constantly working on one room or another. That way they never feel too disconnected and the whole house isn’t “dated” at once.

  14. Christa says

    I have an obsession with collecting ideas from magazines and online and have been doing it since high school – long before I could ever dream of having my own place!

    One thing that works for me is, after I’ve done the work and found the inspiration for the room, I make a list of items I need for it – and be specific. Not just a rug, but a red-toned, oriental rug, preferrably with fringe, maybe even from an antique store. Having a shopping list with specifics keeps me on track so I don’t veer too far from what I know I liked in my inspiration and prevents the impulse buys that usually never work.

    Also, just in case you succumb to an impulse buy, always save receipts until you’re sure you love it – it can always be returned!